Hugh Jackman returning for Wolverine 3 appears to be all but official with how candidly the actor has been discussing the project as of late. Not that Fox needs to rest their future franchise hopes on Wolverine like they have in the past. With the upcoming releases of Fantastic Four, X-Men: Apocalypse, Deadpool, and Gambit, Fox has plenty of new avenues to expand their slice of the Marvel universe.
Still, Wolverine will undoubtedly remain central to Fox's X-Men franchise for as long as Jackman is willing and able to return to the role. From what Jackman has previously revealed, the hope is for Apocalypse and Wolverine 3 to film back-to-back and that story elements from Apocalypse to lead directly in to Wolverine 3 (which he's currently working on the story for with director James Mangold).
Apocalypse is picking up events some ten years after X-Men: Days of Future Past, which brought together a large contingent of Fox's original class of mutants. We had assumed that was the final hurrah for characters like Ian McKellen's Magneto and Patrick Stewart's Professor X, but it appears we were wrong. Only recently, Bryan Singer said McKellen's Magneto would "certainly" be in Apocalypse, and Stewart himself hinted at his Professor X having a role in Wolverine 3.
Naturally, while promoting his latest film, Chappie, Jackman was asked by MTV if he had heard anything about Stewart appearing in Wolverine 3. After hesitantly responding by trying to neither confirm nor deny anything ("He's not not not, not in it"), Jackman said:
"Let's just say, I'd be thrilled if he was part of it because I think that relationship is key, it's one of the keys. It was the key at the beginning and I think there's a long way to go."
So is he? Well, it's clearly too early to say one way or the other, and Jackman has been at this game long enough to know that if he were to confirm Stewart's involvement - only to then have something fall through - he'd be roasted for getting fans' hopes up.
But knowing how crucial the Professor X/Wolverine relationship has proven to the franchise's whole development, it's safe to assume that Jackman and Mangold have a role in mind for Stewart in Wolverine 3. They may have even had very early talks about such a possibility, which could be why Stewart brought it up in the first place.
Jackman goes on to stress how early it is for development on Wolverine 3, but that they will be drawing from some comic books for inspiration:
"It does draw on some comic book stuff. There are some things, but in typical fashion sort of one main one with a few bits here and there and then opening it up. Jim [James Mangold] and I, we've been talking about it, he has a treatment. But I mean, we're a way out from it so we're in really good shape with it. I'm really, really excited about it."
There' still no release date set for Wolverine 3, but if Apocalypse is releasing in 2016, then presumably Wolverine 3 would follow a year later, two at the most.
Lastly, with the news that Spider-Man will finally join The Avengers in the MCU, thanks to a landmark deal between Sony and Marvel Studios, Jackman was asked what he thinks of the possibilities the X-Men could cross over next.
"I like to think there's that possibility for all of it, and I would even like to think more that it doesn't happen out of necessity, y'know, when someone's run it into the ground or something. I optimistically love the idea of "What the hell, Batman versus Iron Man versus Wolverine!" Let's just chuck 'em in.
We'll see what happens, but maybe as these things go on more and more they'll want to and need to do all that stuff. I'm optimistic, I'd think it'd be great, but hey, it's not my billions of dollars behind this promise. [laughs] It's easy for us to speculate, "Why did they do that?!"
Obviously, once one superhero crosses that gap, appearing in another studios' film, then it becomes all the more likely that more could follow. If that's the case, then either of Fox's Marvel properties - Fantastic Four or the X-Men - could become part of the larger MCU in the future.
What do you make of Hugh Jackman's latest comments on Wolverine 3? Do you expect Patrick Stewart's Professor X to have a role? And what of the X-Men joining the MCU - could it happen? Sound off in the comments below!
Fantastic Four opens August 7th, 2015, Deadpool on February 12, 2016, X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016, Gambit on October 7 2016, Wolverine 3 (not the official title) on March 3rd, 2017, Fantastic Four 2 on July 14th, 2017, and some as-yet unspecified X-Men film on July 13th, 2018.